Posts Tagged ‘book


The Great Gatsby

As we continue further into Hollywood’s make or break season, this past weekend provided more evidence that Hollywood is indeed stuck in a prolonged phase of unoriginal concepts for films. The F. Scott Fitzgerald literary classic, The Great Gatsby, made its debut on the big screen.  Directed by Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby stars Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Carey Mulligan.

Set in the roaring 1920’s, The Great Gatsby features Maguire as integral character and narrator, Nick Carraway.  As the film opens, we first encounter Carraway during a therapy session as he recovers in a mental institution from a laundry list of issues.  As part of his recovery, Carraway is encouraged to write and as he scribes furiously, we soon hear that famous opening line as our story begins.

In addition to being the film’s narrator, Carraway is a World War I veteran, who is now a bond salesman and a struggling writer.  Soon after renting a small, modest house on Long Island across from his cousin, Daisy (Mulligan), her husband Tom, and their lavish mansion, Nick becomes intrigued by his rich, mysterious, and virtually unknown neighbor, Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio).  Night after night, Gatsby’s mansion holds extravagant soirées attended by a who’s who of the rich, powerful, and famous.  One day, out of the blue, Nick receives a personalized, handwritten invitation to that night’s celebration at Gatsby’s plush mansion.  Little does Nick know, his attendance at the party sets in motion a series of events with unforeseen and ultimately tragic consequences.

To start things off, the performances leave will you desiring so much more.  Without a doubt the biggest disappointment comes from the performance of Mr. Titanic, Leo DiCaprio.  To come from Django Unchained, where he was terrific as evil plantation owner Calvin Candie to whatever this was is baffling.  He’s irritating, annoying, overacts and spouts “old sport” ad nauseam.  DiCaprio also produces some of the cheesiest moments I’ve ever seen in a film. At one point, Gatsby turns to the camera in slow-motion with a huge grin; this sent the audience into a fit of laughter.  That’s a problem, considering it wasn’t supposed to be humorous at that moment.  Tobey Maguire turns in a very Tobey Maguiresque performance. He’s predictably boring, bland, and dull.  When you have names like Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan attached, you expect so much more and it just wasn’t there.

The Great Gatsby is terribly uneven in feel and at 2 ½ hours, way too long. The first half of the film focuses on the setting; sweeping views of 1920s New York City, the mansions, the clothes, the outrageous and constant parties.  Point made. But the film stresses the setting over and over.  Not until the 2nd half of the film does it center its attention on the actual story and interplay between characters and then it feels odd and forced.

The Great Gatsby could’ve been a good film, but it’s a case where the director gets in the way. There’s way too much style and way too little substance.  Do yourself a favor and read the book instead.


The Host


The past weekend provided us with yet another rather uninspiring line up of new releases at the theater.  Jurassic Park, a film in theaters twenty years ago and the hyper violent and gory Evil Dead, made their way to the multiplex.  Watching a film that perpetually plays on television or being subjected to a 90 minute nonstop blood and gore fest didn’t appeal to me.  Instead, I decided to give Andrew Niccol’s The Host, starring Saoire Ronan and Diane Kruger a try.

The Host, based on a book of the same name, is penned by Twilight author Stephanie Meyer.  The central story revolves around an alien invasion of Earth where the aliens implant an alien soul into human bodies.  The number who are human is slim and is dwindling fast as the memories in the humans lead the aliens to other humans.

In the opening scene, Melanie, the main character, jumps through a window in order to kill herself and evade capture from the aliens.  Miraculously aside from a few cuts Melanie is perfectly fine.  Melanie’s will to survive is so strong that after being implanted with an alien host, we see her memories and hear her thoughts throughout the film. Wanting to find and protect her brother, Melanie sends the alien residing in her on a wild goose chase in the desert.  Soon after and before dying in the desert, Melanie is taken into an isolated campsite with the few remaining humans.  Melanie’s presence is met with an expected apprehension because of being a human with an alien host.  Melanie must fight survival and try to convince aliens and humans to peacefully coexist.

For a romantic, scfi-action film, there wasn’t a whole lot of either romance or action.  The film is on cruise control for the most part.  There’ll be one scene of action and then several minutes with nothing that moves the story forward.  I’ve never seen a film that meanders in places for so long like The Host.  However, when the story does move forward, it’s not half bad.  It’s a fairly interesting concept.

The acting in this film is ten times better all-around than anything in the Twilight series.  These actors don’t make you cringe with every word that comes out of their mouth.  It’s not great, but did exceed my expectations.

The Host is not a perfect film, not by a long shot. It meanders terribly, some cheesy lines, and some questionable acting.  However, it did exceed my low expectations.


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